Wi-Fi vs Ethernet – Is Ethernet Faster Than Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi and Ethernet are two terms that are often mentioned in the same breath. Assuming you’re a gamer and hear several complaints about Wi-Fi and many people singing praises of the wired connections. Have you ever wondered why? One question that lingers in the mind of many people is Ethernet faster than Wi-Fi? Well, you are in the right place, in today’s post, I am going to cover the entire topic in detail, so let us start.

Is Ethernet Faster Than Wi-Fi?

It can be both yes and no. Ethernet connection can support data speeds faster than the wireless.

The highest Ethernet speed is 10 Gbps while the fastest Ethernet router will broadcast at 1 gigabit per second. So, at the speeds below 1 Gbps, they’re equally fast, but higher and wired connection can be faster.

What is Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi is the wireless technology that easily connects any devices to the internet without a physical wired connection. It was introduced in the year 1999 and is considered the most popular kind of connection used at present.

What is Ethernet?

Ethernet was introduced in 1973, and it is one way to connect devices in the LAN. It includes Ethernet cable, crossover cable, hub, and router, and allows devices to send data over a specified network.

Wi-Fi Vs Ethernet

Wifi vs Ethernet

If this question were asked before, the answer would be a little different than now because Ethernet makes use of cables and tends to work a bit faster than the wireless connection.

The wireless connections can be a little slower but offer the convenience of using this within range. At present, Wi-Fi hotspots are easily found in a lot of places.

Therefore, the choice is between convenience and speed.

The Wi-Fi connection allows users to access the network and Internet through the wireless connection over wireless access points – and no cables are required. Ethernet connection makes use of ethernet cable for connecting to the network.

Speed 

While many variables determine the real speed of the Wi-Fi connection and Ethernet connection, Ethernet is faster than Wi-Fi. And fastest Ethernet speed comes out at 10 Gbps and higher, while the fastest Wi-Fi speeds top out at 6.9 Gbps, although actual speed will be slower – generally less than 1 Gbps.

Security

Compared to Wi-Fi, Ethernet connection is more secure. One can access data over their Ethernet network just by attaching their device to that network, and wireless network data can be intercepted easily.

Reliability

A wireless connection is much more susceptible to interference from any electrical devices and physical objects that will block a signal. When it comes to reliability, Ethernet tops the list, since it’s insulated from the crosstalk and interference, so the presence of physical objects does not affect it.

Uploading Large files

When uploading any large files, video streaming, or working with the bandwidth applications, Ethernet’s fastest speed will provide a better experience with the lower latency & faster data transfer.

Convenience

Without any doubt, Wi-Fi is much more convenient compared to an Ethernet connection. With the wireless network, users can freely move throughout the area, untethered to a workstation or desk by the Ethernet cable.

How Does An Ethernet Work?

How Does An Ethernet Work

Ethernet works as the transmission mode and helps networked devices to transmit data from Place A to Place B.

Ethernet lowers the need for having multiple networks for any communication and helps to connect the computer on similar servers with one another.

The components include:

  • Ethernet cable
  • Crossover cable
  • Router
  • Hub

Different Types of the Ethernet Networks

It’s in three categories.

They are:

  1. Crossover network
  2. Router and shared connections
  3. Hub Network

Ethernet cables come in the following forms:

Straight-Through Cable

The cable includes the same wiring on both the ends and used for connecting the following devices:

  • Router to hub
  • Router to switch
  • Computer to switch
  • Computer to hub

In simpler terms, the cable can be used for connecting various devices.

Crossover Cable

It’s used to connect the same devices or using the same wires for sending the data that use the same cables for receiving the data as well. Suppose you plan to connect multiple computers, then you might need this cable. When using this cable, swapping of the wire pairs is possible.

How Do You Connect It?

  • You have to insert an end of the splitter in the ethernet hub of your device that gives the internet connection.
  • After that insert these cables from that device, you plan to connect to in the splitter.
  • Check the connection and verify if devices get connected to its network resources.

Connecting Wi-Fi to Ethernet Adaptor

With this it, you can get the Ethernet connection monitors linked to the Wi-Fi connection.

It generally comes with the following things:

  • Ethernet cable
  • USB power cable
  • Wireless Ethernet Bridge
  • Power adaptor

Using the device, you will have the wired Ethernet device over Wi-Fi. They support several Ethernet-based equipment & computers. This works as a wireless client mode.

In a client mode, administrative rights to a router are not essential, but with the wireless bridge, they’re highly recommended. An access point bridging will be enabled by its configuration settings.

How to Share the Computer’s ICS through Wi-Fi?

Well, it is known to be an ideal solution when you are sharing the Wi-Fi of your computer with other devices over the ethernet cable. You may use this technique to connect the Wi-Fi radios, PS4, and X-Box too.

In this particular method, we will use ICS functionality.

What is ICS?

Internet Connection Sharing is the windows service, which allows any computer to have the internet connection enabled to share the internet with various other devices over the ethernet connection.

In PC sharing this connection works as the gateway. It means that the internet traffic over other computers goes through the computer that is sharing the connection.

Ethernet or Wi-Fi: What Matters & What Doesn’t

Looking at several performance benefits that Ethernet has, it is overkill. Unless you’re truly taking benefit of it, making use of Ethernet will be like purchasing the gaming supercomputer only to check the social media.

As per the Ookla’s SpeedTest.net statistics, an average download speed globally for the fixed broadband is just 84.33 Mbps. Even the 4th generation Wi-Fi with an 802.11n support will handle those speeds. The modern routers use Wi-Fi 5 (affordable ones) that have Gigabit capabilities. When it comes to transferring speeds, Wi-Fi can meet & surpass many people’s requirements.

Global Speeds August 2020

Unless you’re truly taking benefit of it, Ethernet will be like buying a supercomputer only to check the social media.

Latency is a different story, but the difference can be insignificant to a lot of users. Think about how long one millisecond is. Waiting 2 to 3 milliseconds when checking emails, browsing the internet, and watching videos will not make a noticeable difference.

Ethernet’s security is very nice, but we have encryption, anti-viruses, firewalls, and much more. These are very good to keep casual users safe. Just businesses and people who seriously need high-security standards must consider using Ethernet for such reason.

Without any specific need, leaving the convenience and comfort of Wi-Fi can bring you very little or no improvements.

Wi-Fi and Ethernet Technology for Live Streaming

Now you know the difference between Ethernet and Wi-Fi, let us find out which one is better for intensive tasks. Video streaming is considered as data-heavy, particularly when we move to the higher-resolution content & faster frame rates. The most popular online streaming services today are Netflix and YouTube. Let us look at its internet speeds recommendations.

  • YouTube needs 20 Mbps
  • Netflix needs 25Mbps

As it is seen, these requirements are below what Ethernet & Wi-Fi will handle. You must be really good to stream video irrespective of the preference, providing the internet speeds are on par. According to the average global speeds mentioned, most of the people must have spared data speeds.

Now, the data speed recommendation is for streaming the 4K content. And your needs are less when you are streaming at the lower resolutions.

Not just are the Wi-Fi speeds very good to stream video of 4K, but it can be an option for you. People stream movies or other content by using smartphones, laptops, and tablets. Most of the smart TVs & smartTV devices do not include Ethernet ports either.

Wi-Fi and Ethernet for Gaming

Today’s gamers appear to be more demanding while it comes to performance, and gaming offline is not harsh on data, but, some players online may consider the Ethernet route.

Most of the current titles could be fast-paced and filled with action. And every millisecond will make a huge difference between surviving and getting shot in ahead. The faster ping can make sure the mouse movement & action happens with very little latency, and resulting in faster reaction times, which give you an edge over your competition.

Wireless Network

Just imagine: You and other player or opponent shoot at the same time in the FPS game, the person with the least latency may effectively shoot first. Though by one or two milliseconds, you can lose the game.

There’re various other external factors, which can add latency, however, reducing this ping by milliseconds with an Ethernet connection must make a huge difference. For this reason, gamers buy expensive keyboards, mice, and various other accessories with small latency. Making use of Ethernet is a part of this lag reduction equation.

When to Use an Ethernet Router?

We do not mean to get down hard on a Wi-Fi connection. It is very speedy, highly convenient, and entirely serviceable for most tasks on our networks. But, Wi-Fi is essential when you have got mobile devices. There are times when you cannot use Ethernet. Perhaps it isn’t easy to run the permanent and out-of-way cable to the location that you want. Or your landlord will not allow you to run cables in a way you wish.

And that is one real reason for using Wi-Fi: convenience. Suppose any device wants to move over or you do not want to run the cable to it, then Wi-Fi is your best choice.

Ethernet Router

Alternatively, if you have a desktop computer or server that stays in one single place, Ethernet will be the best option. Suppose you want the better quality streaming (mainly if you are doing this from the media server of your network) or you are a gamer, Ethernet can be a way for you to go. Assuming it is simple to plug your devices in with the Ethernet cable, you will get a solid connection.

In the end, Ethernet provides the benefits of the lower latency, better speed, and extra reliable connections. Wi-Fi offers the benefits of convenience and proves suitable for many uses. Thus, you will need to see if your devices fit in these categories where Ethernet can make the difference, and decide if it can make a huge difference to run a few cables.

Wi-Fi and Ethernet Comparison Table

Wi-FiEthernet
Higher latencyLower latency
Slow transfer speedsFast transfer speeds
Inconsistent connectivityConsistent connectivity
Data encryption requiredData encryption not recommended
No connection; portableNeed physical connection; restricted portability
Easy installation & deploymentNeeds Ethernet cable infrastructure
IoT & Smart home compatibleIoT & Smart home restricted compatibility

FAQ’s

How to Use Ethernet instead of Wi-Fi?

Click on the Start button, and in your search field option, type View internet connections.
Press the ALT key, and click on Advanced Options and click on Advanced Settings.
Choose Local Area Connection & click on green arrows and give priority to your desired connection.

Is Ethernet safer than Wi-Fi?

Ethernet connection is safer than the Wi-Fi connection because data on the Ethernet network can be accessed only by attaching the device to a network physically. In contrast, data on the Wi-Fi network moves across and can be intercepted easily. 

What is the difference between ethernet and Wi-Fi?

An Ethernet connection sends data over the cable while Wi-Fi transmits data through wireless signals. 

Is an ethernet cable faster than Wi-Fi?

Ethernet connection is faster than the Wi-Fi connection and offers higher reliability and security.

Final Verdict

If you are using the internet for daily usage like regular browsing, video streaming, and downloading, then Wi-Fi is sufficient for you.

If you are a gamer and do not want to risk it, you must go with Ethernet.

There is not any clear winner. Both have got their benefits and drawbacks. Thus, you must select the connection as per your requirements.

Amy Bros is a young technology enthusiast who always explores and demonstrates new technology skills & products. With 5+ years of experience, she holds several leading IT certificates.

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